Justin Maples, 35, a seven-year veteran of Cleveland Police Department, apparently lost control of his patrol vehicle and struck a utility pole.
Tennessee Highway Patrol reports indicated the crash occurred at 9:29 p.m. as Maples was traveling northbound on South Lee Highway near the Holiday Hill Motel when he lost control of the police car and traveled across the four-lane highway before striking the pole.
The reports also noted Maples was responding to a call for backup for a Bradley County Sheriff’s Office deputy on a foot-pursuit which involved a stolen-car suspect.
THP’s Critical Incident Response Team is aiding in the crash investigation.
Present at the scene Sunday evening were Lt. Tommie Graham and troopers Gray Gibson, Trey Seymour and Cameron Azbill along with CIRT investigators.
Bradley County Emergency Medical Service and Cleveland Fire Department responded to the scene and aided in extricating Maples from the patrol car.
LifeForce helicopter was dispatched to the scene, according to Stan Clark, spokesman for BCEMS.
Maples was transported to SkyRidge Medical Center where he was pronounced dead a short time later, according to Evie West, information officer for CPD.
“Our city and county are in mourning today after losing one of the city’s bravest and finest men who work to preserve and protect us,” Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland said. “This is a tragedy for our community, and our thoughts and prayers go out to the Maples family.”
State Rep. Eric Watson, R-Cleveland who represents the 22nd Legislative District, and is chairman of Judiciary and Law Enforcement for the Tennessee House of Representatives, added his condolence to the Maples family.
“My heart goes out to Danielle and the family of Justin Maples,” Watson said. “He was one of the greatest officers that I ever met.”
Watson added, “He was one of those guys that if you can sketch out who you want for a police officer, that’s exactly who you would have. He was truly one of the good guys and he will be greatly missed in Bradley County.”
Brenda Lawson, president of Cleveland 100, is expected to meet with board members later today to determine the Maples’ family needs.
Cleveland 100 was established for the purpose of aiding families of officers who die in the line of duty.
According to Rowland, Lt. Ken Simpson’s family received aid in 2008 after Simpson stepped from his patrol car and suffered heart problems, causing his death.
In 1971, city officer Kenneth Wright died after being shot by a perpetrator during the commission of a felony, according to Rowland.
Funeral arrangements have not been announced at this time.
Flags around the area are being posted at half-staff, according to Rowland.
Additional information will be published as it becomes available.